06 October 2017

Mural 3: in betweens

One evening while we were working on the mural, there was a talk/discussion on public art in the room above us.  We went to it, and I made a few quick drawings of people while listening.

verna vogel wall mural/installation at cSPACE King Edward, Calgary AB

verna vogel wall mural/installation at cSPACE King Edward, Calgary AB

Doing quick portrait drawings always makes me feel calm and good.  It's a way of turning down the brain, meditative and focussed.

Another evening, I was feeling physically low-energy so did not work much on the mural.  Instead, I went home early and made a few small abstract sketches.  The sketches brought back into focus my current studio work, quite different from the mural's aesthetic.

verna vogel drawing painting mixed-media on paper in sketchbook abstract augury

verna vogel drawing painting mixed-media on paper in sketchbook abstract augury

verna vogel drawing and painting on paper in sketchbook abstract augury

It was a energy nice re-set, and then I could continue with the mural in a good frame of mind.  Yesterday we added more bits & pieces, and taped off part of the wall which will be painted a dark grey colour, so the painters would know what to do with that wall.

verna vogel wall mural/installation at cSPACE King Edward, Calgary AB

verna vogel wall mural/installation at cSPACE King Edward, Calgary AB

We are in the very final stages of the mural now.  I look forward to its completion within a few days... if all goes according to plan. (x) Once it is complete, I will probably miss working on it!  *laughs*  So it goes.

Thanks as always for reading.


28 September 2017

mural 2

Yesterday we performed structural and cosmetic surgery on the mural.

vernavogel mural at cSPACE King Edward day 4

Holes were drilled, metal parts inserted, things bound together.

vernavogel mural at cSPACE King Edward day 5

Silhouettes were reshaped.


23 September 2017

mural 1

I have been commissioned to create a wall mural/installation at cSPACE King Edward.  There was a catch: they wanted an urban-themed work...

I have made very few urban paintings over the last few years, essentially because I got bored with "producing" them.  I wanted to explore more process-based approaches to making art, and that's what I've been doing.  So one of my conditions for accepting the commission was that I would do only very basic planning, allowing the process to inform the final aesthetic.

And to their credit they are fine with "subject to change" being the prevailing catchphrase.  What luck!  Of all the places in this city to create a permanent artwork, cSPACE may be tops.

vernavogel mural cSPACE, working with slavaged materials in the yard
playing around with materials in the yard

Even better: I get to work with my husband on this one.  He's mostly a landscape painter now, but he has quite a lot of building experience and he loves historical buildings.  Since we will be creatively incorporating some materials salvaged from the original building, he is an ideal partner for this project. (and for many, many reasons an ideal partner in life)

vernavogel cSPACE King Edward mural working with ideas
"subject to change"

After a few weeks of exploring ideas and materials - and waiting for the wall to be built - the underpainting has begun.

vernavogel day 1 mural painting just beginning at cSPACE King Edward
Day 1: 5pm

vernavogel mural painting end of day 1  cSPACE King Edward, Calgary Alberta
Day 1: 11pm

It sure felt good to finally get that wall covered in a first layer of paint!  I think it actually looks rather ugly at this point, but that may be because I haven't done urban stuff in awhile and I have more memory of "product" than "process" when it comes to the urban paintings.

I'm excited about the evolution of this thing, especially once we begin to involve some of the built elements.

Thanks as always for reading,


22 August 2017

What they saw next was true

Fragile Planets

I have a type of very focussed multiple attention span in the studio.  Lately I've been engaged with three different but connected streams of work: Large oil paintings, small acrylic paintings, and poured-paint paintings.  All exploring circles, ellipses, arced lines and shapes.

I've begun making some paintings based on the small stitched pieces of my recent Fragile Planets installation.  Fragile Planets received a very enthusiastic response from gallery-goers, and then it sort of went underground for a bit.  Now it is resurfacing in a further incarnation.  

What they saw next was true

Above: stitched canvas 16x16"

Below: detail bits of three finished acrylic paintings

What they saw next was true

What they saw next was true

What they saw next was true

The leftover acrylic paint is not wasted!  No, it is more fun and productive to pour leftover paint onto pieces of canvas.  Sometimes the canvas is cut fresh from the roll, other times I pour the leftover paint on top of old paintings that had never made it to being stretched.

verna vogel paint pour to create ground on canvas
It is summer and warm, so I do this outdoors.
Then I play with my shadow.

verna vogel paint pour to create ground

It has been mentioned to me that the details of these poured grounds/paintings could make paintings in and of themselves.  Perhaps I will go there in future, and perhaps not.

verna vogel acrylic painting detail

verna vogel acrylic painting detail

Once in awhile, with just a few tweaks a finished painting emerges from the layers of pours.  When that happens I get excited.  Then I have to restrain myself from trying to make more of my pours into finished paintings, because this type of painting has to feel particularly effortless in order to be true.

What they saw next was true

It can be the most difficult thing in the world to do something effortlessly and well.  It is a type of freedom that requires great and concentrated focus, often flying in the face of an innate human urge to define, classify, produce calibrated results.

What they saw next was true

And there you have the fundamental discipline of being an artist.

31 July 2017

The Process: JC x 2

Yesterday Jen Cloutier came to visit my studio and interview me for a project she has been working on, documenting the lives and studio practices of artists in Cuba and Canada.  It's called "The Process"; you can read about it here.  

Near the end of our visit, she graciously sat for not one but two quick portraits, lucky me!

Jen Cloutier: flanneur, curator of Vivant! and author of The Process
Sharpie marker and gouache in the green portrait book

Jen Cloutier: flanneur, curator of Vivant! and author of The Process
China marker and gouache in the green portrait book

Beautiful bee wing shadows.  Part of the process is observing nature.

As I was photographing those portraits this morning, I noticed a bee sitting very still on the deck.  Aren't the shadows of its wings just beautiful?  The flower shadows too.

the process of colour
Sometimes I write in my sketchbooks

The process of making a painting: work in progress, sheer colour layers
Sometimes I paint in my studio

The Process; observing nature makes my eyes happy
And sometimes I am in the right place at the right time to notice something beautiful.

27 July 2017

JP and YT x 2

JP enjoying coffee in the sunshine, portrait in sketchbook

JP enjoying the morning sunshine with a coffee.  The coffee itself is not shown, but its effect is apparent in his facial relaxation.

wildflower garden in summer barely needs any water even in dry heat

Our front wildflower garden.  This patch pretty much takes care of itself; even in this summer of relentless dry heat I have only watered it twice.

portrait of yulia tsinko by verna vogel ink & goauche in sketchbook

TY x 2

portrait of yulia tsinko by verna vogel ink & gouache in sketechbook

Sitting under trees by the river on a beautiful day.

18 July 2017

Alberta Landscape No. 2017-3

alberta landscape no. 2017-3 a lovely view
the view

Alberta landscape no. 2017-3 my palette of colours
the palette

alberta landscape no. 2017-3 initial sketch
the sketch

alberta landscape no. 2017-3 begin painting, sky first
before the debris-laden wind gust

alberta landscape no. 2017-3 after the wind storm hit!
after the debris-laden wind gust

alberta landscape no. 2017-3 finished painting in the field
finished work with debris

alberta landscape no. 2017-3 painting and view all together now
on location

alberta landscape no. 2017-3 final touch-ups in the studio
in studio, with slight touching ups

Wildfires are burning in Banff and the air is hazy but this does not stop us from going out painting.  In fact the haze lends a wonderful atmospheric effect.  

That wind gust, though: full of sand and ashes and whatever else the fast wind can pick up.  Too much debris to remove completely.  Guess it'll just have to dry in the paint layer; I'll call it "natural provenance".

28 June 2017

balance in

I am making a blog post today simply because I haven't in awhile, and I do like to post every couple of weeks.  It has become a kind of discipline over the years.

There is a lot of work going on in the studio, but I don't feel I want to share it just yet.  Not from some idea of wanting to show only "best" or even "good" work - any regular reader of this blog will know that I don't curate in that way here - but just because, well, I think it all really needs some quiet percolation time just now.  

So, while some things percolate, here are a few other things which provide a balance.

Balance in the studio: pausing for a bit of precision work in between the big loose paintings.  Below, from the "Sound" series, reworked oil paintings:

sound oil paintings balance in studio

A circle centred inside a square is a very static composition, lots of potential for boredom!  But I am determined to find ways of making it work, through use of colour, emerging/receding image and placement of lines.  I think these two are looking better than some of the earlier incarnations of the squared-circle idea.

ink and twig drawing on paper balance at work

Balance at the job: A small sketch quickly done while working at the art store, made with a twig dipped in black ink for the lines, and a brush to get the washes, on office paper.

"augury" sketches ink and gouache on watercolour paper balance of materials

Balance of materials: A few more ink & gouache sketches on w/c paper, very tiny at 4x6", because I wanted to paint yesterday but did not want to get into the big oil paintings again just yet.

roses in bloom balance in the life

And balance in the life; the garden has been keeping me busy too :)

13 June 2017

very small things and very large things

how I see

surrounded by circles
what I see

new work in progress, "auguries" oil colour glazing, verna vogel studio
inside the studio

full moon as seen from studio doorway verna vogel
outside the studio

surrounded by circles rumblesat art in space mission
ink and mixed-media stitching on paper, 7x7"
included the RumbleSat Art in Space Mission
(read about it here.)

Very small things to very large things, so many circles.


Sometimes I feel very keenly that what I'm doing in my little studio relates directly to the whole universe as we know it - and what a fine feeling that is!